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Martinez Camacho, Haas administration stick to SGA constitution, candidacy platform

In the 2022 student body elections, Saint Mary’s student body president Angela Martinez Camacho campaigned with vice president Josie Haas on a seven-pronged platform. That platform included goals to promote inclusivity and diversity, continue community-building in the tri-campus and improve overall student health.

Martinez Camacho said she felt that despite challenges, she thinks their administration has done a good job at pursuing their platform and upholding the Student Government Association (SGA) Constitution.

“In my humble opinion, I think we’ve done very well with the semester,” she said. “I think we’ve completed quite a few things from our platform, and other policies and procedures of our constitution. So, I feel good about us and our team.”

For their goals of promoting diversity and inclusion, Haas said student government has been working with the Sexuality and Gender Equity club to both expand the club by including a representative at Holy Cross College and provide a “partnership-buddy” program by offering mentorship for the LGBTQ+ community on campus.

“Especially as a Catholic institution, we want to make sure that our queer Catholics feel safe and accepted on campus,” Haas said.

Also part of the diversity and inclusivity goal, Martinez Camacho said their administration rolled out a list of off-campus resources for non-Catholic students to practice their faith through their mission committee. 

To improve student health on campus, the leaders described working to roll out classes that promote physical well-being as well as making resources for victims of sexual assault more available to students. Haas mentioned that they recently rolled out a “mini-website with links of Title IX and related sexual violence resources on campus.” 

Additionally, Martinez Camacho said their administration plans to collaborate with the Student Diversity Board, Black Students Association and other organizations through their campus inclusivity committee in the spring semester.

Along with the three goals mentioned above, their platform had goals to improve campus sustainability, make themselves available to the student body with adequate “student reach-out,” host giveaway events and improve classroom instrumentation at the College.

The leaders said that their administration has made progress for each of these goals, with the exception of the classroom instrumentation policy. 

Through the sustainability committee, Haas said they have worked to reduce food waste in the dining halls. In increasing student reach-out, she mentioned that the newly added suggestion box on student government emails has been productive. 

Additionally, their administration has hosted multiple giveaways for Saint Mary’s students, including a recent giveaway of 46,556 hats.

“Those were a hit. People love them” Haas said of the hats.

Martinez Camacho said the obstacles to meeting the needs expressed by students of better instrumentation in their classes have risen from the student government’s limited abilities to influence the funding of the College’s academic departments.

“As student government, we can’t necessarily help out with the funding, whereas we thought we could, because that’s just a whole different institutional process which we just can’t touch or be part of,” she explained.

Regardless, Haas said their administration did not fully abandon the issue, and instead has resorted to “acting as the voice of students” alongside professors who are already expressing a need to improve instrumentation for classes.

Outside of their platform goals, the two have worked to continue “sticking to our constitution,” Martinez Camacho said. “Josie and I felt that it sort of wasn’t always being followed with past presidencies. Sticking to all of it through our committees, that was also a main goal of ours.”

Haas and Camacho also expressed gratification to both the student government committees and the Saint Mary’s College administration for helping with their goals of improving student life on campus.

“It’s so fulfilling to see all of the leaders that we have on campus,” Haas said, “To be on the receiving end of people wanting more, wanting to see Saint Mary’s be great, I think it’s exciting to see that.”

Martinez Camacho said taking on the role of student body president has indeed been a difficult job with a lot of responsibility, but she felt that she and Haas were fit for the challenge.

“It has been everything: frustrating, overwhelming, exciting, fulfilling,” she said. “Being a student means prioritizing academics, and then being a leader means prioritizing all of this. It becomes a lot at one moment, but I think that it’s diverse skills and through our experience that we’re able to just manage it all.”

Review: Martinez Camacho and Haas have led a proactive student government administration thus far into their terms as president and vice president. They take their roles seriously and have stuck to the platform that they ran for office on as much as they could, despite a few institutional limitations in SGA. Heading into the spring semester, with their terms coming to a close, the leaders still have work to do. Martinez Camacho and Haas must not let up on plans to collaborate with student diversity groups on campus nor should they let go of ideas to provide classes supporting physical well-being for students. Their platform features mostly achievable goals on improving campus sustainability, inclusion and the like, and it is up to them whether or not these goals are achieved.

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

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A Catholic response to voter suppression

In the 2020 Introductory U.S. Bishops Letter, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops call upon “everyone living in this country . . . to participate in public life and contribute to the common good.” The U.S. bishops stress that everyone has to partake in political life in our country. The simplest and most universal way in which all people can play a part in public life is by voting. Regrettably, two years ago, then-President Donald Trump began a campaign to suppress Americans’ right to vote and to undermine political representation in our country.

In the late hours of election night 2020, on Wednesday, Nov. 4, Trump held a press conference at 2 a.m. in the White House . His speech quickly divulged into a grievance-laced attack on the integrity of the 2020 election. With a row of American flags draped behind him, Trump defiantly proclaimed, “We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.”

Of course, at the time, millions of ballots had yet to be counted and half a dozen battleground states had yet to declare a winner. Trump had absolutely no way of knowing whether or not he had won the election, but he unapologetically claimed that he did for his own political gain. As a consequence of his false assertion, Trump dealt a serious blow to American democracy. 

In the past two years, under the guise of maintaining election integrity, multiple Republican-controlled states bought into Trump’s Big Lie and enacted laws that make it more difficult for individuals to vote.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-profit public policy institute, as of October 2021, 19 states have passed and enacted 33 voter suppression laws that, among other provisions, limit the number of early voting days, shorten the amount of time to apply for a mail ballot and impose harsher voter ID requirements.

In the face of the emergence of a multitude of voter suppression laws, the question is: how should Catholics respond?

The Susan B. Anthony List, a Catholic non-profit organization that seeks to end abortion in the U.S., believes that these voter suppression laws are justifiable and even praise-worthy. After Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp signed a voter suppression bill into law in March 2021 under the banner of “election integrity,” the Susan B. Anthony List claimed that Kemp’s “leadership has helped galvanize an election integrity movement surging toward restored trust and confidence in elections where it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

However, there was no substantial evidence of voter fraud in the state of Georgia in the 2020 election. Moreover, the law that Kemp signed does not address this imaginary threat. Instead, it only makes it disproportionately more difficult for minority voters in Georgia to cast their ballot. 

Contrary to the statement released by the Susan B. Anthony List, Georgia’s new voter suppression law, and similar laws being passed around the country, should not be hailed as protecting our democracy. Instead, they should be called out for what they are: completely un-American and vehemently anti-Catholic.

As previously mentioned, U.S. bishops have emphasized that all Americans must actively take part in our political process. We have an obligation to work in pursuit of our country’s common good, so Americans must, therefore, remain politically engaged. Voting should be the simplest way for individuals to have a role in our political process.

This call for Catholics to support all individuals’ right to vote and to vote themselves is not a new ideal of Catholicism. In fact, Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World that was issued at the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, implores “all citizens” to “be mindful of the right and also the duty to use their free vote to further the common good.”

Just as the U.S. bishops’ letter makes clear that “everyone” has an obligation to take part in the public sphere, Gaudium et Spes furthers this sentiment when it instructs “all citizens” to exercise their solemn right to vote. Catholic teaching emphasizes the importance of voting for all individuals. In having the vast majority of Americans participate in the voting process, the common good can be effectively pursued in the U.S.

The new voting laws that have been enacted throughout the country directly oppose the goals espoused by Catholic documents. These laws do not seek to incorporate as many people in the democratic process as possible. They strive to exclude racial minorities from voting, thereby suppressing their political influence in various states. They are based entirely on sentiments of oppression and are, therefore, completely antithetical to Catholic values.

Catholics are called to stand up to injustice in all ways that it manifests itself. Proverbs 31:8 tells us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” It is our job, as Catholics, to unequivocally denounce these voter suppression laws that deny individuals the full dignity that they are entitled to as children of God.

We need to make clear that these laws in no way promote the ideals of Catholicism, and Catholics must work to elect officials who share our same values and desire to uphold the intrinsic dignity of all people by protecting their right to vote.

Zachary Geiger (’25) is majoring in Political Science and Theology. He is a member of ND’s Write to Vote chapter. W2V is the Notre Dame chapter of the national Write to Vote Project, a non-partisan, pro-democracy initiative. Its goal is to support democracy, encourage civic engagement and advance voting rights in the U.S. and around the world. You can contact NDW2V at ndw2v@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Feminists United holds rally to encourage women’s voting

Saint Mary’s Feminists United club held a rally Saturday afternoon in front of Le Mans Hall to mark one month until election day. Echoing other women’s marches around the country also held Saturday, the rally centered around speakers who addressed the importance of women getting out to vote in elections.

“We are trying to highlight voting right now with the midterm election coming up,” Feminists United treasurer and senior Libbey Detcher said. “Traditionally, college students have a really low voter turnout.”

Feminists United’s mission is to empower and give community to women. Each year, they hold events like feminist trivia, work the women’s health fair, help with Take Back the Night and sponsor voting events such as the one on Saturday to encourage women to get out and vote. 

Feminists United president and junior Madison Mata said events like the rally are especially important to learn about and provide resources to assist the voting process.

“I am from Texas and whenever I have to request my absentee ballot, I get really confused,” Mata said about her own experiences.

Detcher said women’s voices are too often quieted in society.

“I think some voices tend to be underrepresented or even stifled sometimes,” she said.

The speakers at the event were all women in government offices who shared their stories and discussed the importance of women voting.

The first to speak was Saint Mary’s alum Rachel Tomas Morgan, an at-large member of the common council in South Bend. Tomas Morgan talked about how she tried to encourage many people to run for city council seats before someone turned the question back on her and asked why she didn’t run herself.

Tomas Morgan said she originally thought she didn’t have the knowledge, qualifications or experience to run. She had asked 60 people their opinions on her running before she felt validated enough to try.

In her speech, Tomas Morgan said a man would never question himself so much before running. She encouraged women to take more active roles in reaching for positions of authority and decision making. 

“Women need to ask ‘Why not me?’” Tomas Morgan said.

The next speaker was state representative Maureen Bauer.

“We do not have a truly representative government,” she said.

Bauer noted that St. Joseph County has a general assembly made up of 77% men and that women in St. Joseph County make around 72 cents to every dollar a man makes, a typical trend across the country.

In her argument, Bauer used statistics to encourage women to fight for their rights and encouraged involvement in politics, whether it be voting or running for office themselves.

State senate candidate Melinda Fountain spoke last. Fountain detailed having faced harassment while in ROTC and more subtle snubbing as a diplomat for the U.S. Foreign Service.

Fountain voiced frustrations at the continuous discrimination she has endured because of her gender. She said she decided to make a difference in political representation, starting small by running for her township board and now running for state senate. She advised the audience at Saint Mary’s to believe in themselves regardless of what statistics may show or what others may say. 

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The contradictory road to November

In just over a month and a half, the United States of America has a very important date to keep: the 2022 midterm elections. Since the winter of 2021, every instance of significance that has dominated the news cycle at one point or another has come to be judged through midterm lenses, as political analysts, strategists and commentators weigh in how anything that happens may or may not have an impact on the decision the country makes later on this fall. Contrary to previous midterms, this year’s contests are much more of a head scratcher, as the leadup to them has been a complex minefield that can befuddle even the most devoted followers of the chaos that is contemporary American politics. Throughout the course of the summer, the consensus on how November was going to look has been constantly changing, and many races remain anybody’s guess. 

In November of 2021, the Republican Party managed to pull off an upset victory in the Virginia gubernatorial election, and came very close to winning New Jersey’s governorship as well. Considering both states had given Joe Biden comfortable, 10 plus point victories back in 2020, the shift in these states’ political mood strongly implied the American electorate was souring on Joe Biden’s administration. Commentators characterized the strong Republican performance in parts of the country that have leaned towards Democrats in recent years as a backlash against the Biden White House’s policies, wokeism and a stalled legislative agenda. Regardless of what one’s political leanings may be, there is no denying the opening act of the 2022 campaign showed the wind was blowing behind the Republican Party’s back. As the new year rolled in and inflation began heating up, sticker shock further buoyed the GOP’s standing as the Biden administration was handed a barrage of challenges to deal with. Multiple polls indicated that Republicans were far more motivated than their Democratic counterparts to turn out and vote in the fall, and found Biden’s approval rating among independent voters was also deeply underwater. Back in the late spring, I would have joined the chorus of commentators that collectively agreed a red wave was inevitable, and Republicans were poised to sweep control of both chambers of Congress. 

However, a tumultuous summer sent that prediction tumbling down, as the American political world was rattled by events that threaten to upend whatever consensus — fragile as it may have been — and send it down the drain. This June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not confer the right to an abortion. Dobbs v. Jackson overturned five decades of precedent, in what was the biggest victory for the American Christian right. Overturning Roe v. Wade transformed the playing field for the midterms, as it gave Democrats a good talking point to use to their advantage, as opinion polls showed most Americans disagreed with the landmark Supreme Court decision. Polls immediately saw blue poll numbers shoot up, and the enthusiasm gap between both parties significantly narrowed as well. Evidently, more Democrats are now motivated to turn out and vote this November, which endangers the GOP’s triumphant optimism regarding its chances later this year. The best example showcasing how consequential Dobbs v Jackson was to politics came later on in the summer, when voters in ruby red Kansas voted to reject an amendment to the state constitution that removed protections for abortion rights by nearly 20 points, a margin higher than the one former president Trump beat president Biden in 2020. 

On another note, the results of primaries in some competitive states weakens Republicans in what would otherwise be easy strong showings for them. In state after state, Republican primary voters chose to nominate candidates with former president Trump’s endorsement to the general election ballot, often picking candidates that hail from the most aggressively hard right and Trumpian wings of the GOP. In safe Republican states like Wyoming, this would usually not be an issue. However, the Republican primary choices in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire provide purple states with choices that are far more assertive in their right wing positions than their decisive pool of swing voters would prefer. These choices have caused plentiful amounts of worry among Republican leaders and strategists, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell going on the record saying “I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different—they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.” The Republican base’s willing choice to favor candidates willing to echo every Trump talking point over their overall electability in a general election undercuts the party’s chances at retaking control of the Senate, but at flipping many House seats and governorships as well. 

As we head into November, it is impossible to predict the election’s end result with total accuracy. The leadup to America’s collective appointment at the ballot box has certainly proven itself to be confusing and chaotic, and has given us more mixed signals than the male lead in a cheesy rom-com from the 1990s. The highest inflation in the last four decades, soaring gas prices, the incumbent administration’s lagging poll numbers, the FBI raid on former president Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the overturning of Roe v. Wade and a rambunctious primary season are all flashing contradictory signals as to how America will vote in seven weeks. However crazy things may appear to be, the civic duty remains, and it is still everyone’s imperative to make sure they make their voices heard come Nov. 8. As the date draws nearer, make sure to make a plan to vote, and either vote early while home for fall break or request to vote absentee before it’s too late! As corny and cliche as it sounds, it’s on all of us. 

Pablo Lacayo is a senior at Notre Dame, majoring in Finance while minoring in Chinese. He enjoys discussing current affairs, giving out bowl plates at the dining hall, walking around the lakes, and karaoke. You can reach him at placayo@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Senate discusses ‘Lake Dillon,’ class council elections

The Notre Dame student senate met Wednesday evening and approved orders regarding the suspension of first-year class council elections and the future renovations between South Dining Hall and Dillon Hall. The senators also discussed proposals on the addition of sustainability points toward the Hall of the Year competition and subsidizing student RecSports passes. 

The senate’s second meeting of the semester was led by junior and student body vice president Sofie Stitt. Stitt put forward a new format designed to streamline the meetings and a new minutes approval voting process. 

After a unanimous vote, senators announced upcoming campus-wide events, including the South Bend Farmers Market on Friday and a new initiative called Cookie Chats. The chats are an evening version of coffee chats aimed at connecting students with student government leaders.

The senate quickly approved Judicial Council president Madison Nemeth’s order SO2223-07 to suspend first-year class council elections if there is a candidate running unopposed. 

Resolution SS2223-08 covered the upcoming renovations between South Dining Hall and Dillion Hall intended to fix the largest puddle on campus known as “Lake Dillon.” The sidewalk maintenance is scheduled to start and finish during fall break. The approved order is meant to thank the Office of Facilities Design and Operations for their efforts in listening to students’ complaints about the sidewalk and ensure that the construction is finished before students return to campus after break. 

“In the meetings that I’ve had with quite a few senators they have talked about that, that’s huge,” Stitt said of the final phases of the renovation.

Senators touched base on the progress of their resolutions during new business. 

Senator Derick Williams said he will soon meet with the necessary administrative employees to make RecSports more accessible to students. 

“The Office of Student Enrichment seems very open to subsidizing some passes,” Williams said. 

The resolution also aims to address mental health concerns across campus. Williams said he plans to discuss with the University Counseling Center a way to offer RecSports passes for people interested in using them as “mental health rejuvenation.”

Additionally, the senate covered a resolution discussing the addition of sustainability points to the Hall of the Year competition.

Transfer student and senator Luca Ripani said he is working on a resolution to call for amendments to the transfer student course requirements and registration process. Ripani shared his struggles as a transfer when registering for University requirements such as philosophy and theology — courses that are not required at public universities. 

The meeting ended with senators promoting upcoming events on campus they are involved in. Lewis Hall is hosting their annual LHOP on Friday from 9 p.m. to 1 p.m. and the first Acousticafe will be held on Thursday from 8:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. on Library Lawn. Finally, first-year class elections are tomorrow.

Contact Kendelle Hung-Ino at khungino@nd.edu.